Friday, June 28, 2013

Nobody wins

For better or worse, many online venues (especially Twitter) seem to be the most prolific places where one can adequately glean public sentiments of a major news story. One story in particular which many have been weighing in on is the George Zimmerman murder trial.

If you recall, it was February 2012 when Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL. Martin, who was black, was said by some to be a victim of racial profiling by the non-black Zimmerman. But Zimmerman's account was that he shot Martin in self defense. After approaching an unarmed Martin while performing his duties as head of his neighborhood's watch program, Zimmerman sustained a broken nose and lacerations to the back of his head. Upon being questioned by Sanford police, Zimmerman was treated and released after police found no evidence to contradict his account. However, approximately two months later, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.

What has disturbed me most about the general reactions of this case is the truth has become a casualty. If Zimmerman is acquitted (and if early testimony is any indication, the murder charge may have been a bit of an overreach), there's been predictions of race riots that would dwarf what happened in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King shooting and LAPD acquittals of the Rodney King beating. There have also been several tweets threatening Zimmerman's life or that of another "cracker." The whole purpose of this trial is to sift through eyewitness accounts of the incident, as well as the forensic evidence obtained, in an effort to properly reach a verdict. The fact that many are taking sides in this case as if it were a football game should shake every American to his/her core.

Unfortunately, race is one factor in why people are hoping for a certain outcome. Another issue is the obligatory attack on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Whenever a high profile shooting occurs in this country, the first thing to happen is the "gun control" advocates exploit the incident in an effort to alleviate the existence of firearms. On the other side, ardent Second Amendment supporters push back, concerned that the unintended consequences of politicians implementing knee-jerk gun legislation will suppress their rights. As a result, you have many Americans paying rapt attention to this case not so much in the interest of seeing justice prevail but to ascertain how this will impact their own self interests.

This all seems to fly directly in the face of objectivity.


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